Research News Flash
As with the general population, engaging in physical activity leads to numerous physical and mental health benefits in persons with chronic disease (e.g., arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, obesity). Research provides evidence for pain reduction, improved function and improved quality of life. Furthermore, risk of disability associated with chronic disease can also be reduced with physical activity.
The internet has provided an avenue by which physical activity programs can be made widely available, while reducing transportation and cost barriers. Previous research with healthy adults indicates that web-based programs can lead to improved physical activity behaviors. However, these results cannot be directly translated to individuals with chronic disease due to different motivations, abilities, and barriers related to physical activity participation. Therefore, the purpose of this study, using a systematic review, was to summarize the effectiveness of web-based physical activity interventions in persons with chronic disease.
Using a comprehensive search strategy and strict inclusion/exclusion criteria, a total of seven studies were deemed eligible for review out of an original 462 citations identified. A methodological quality assessment resulted in five of the seven studies being identified as high quality, with the other two being of low quality. All studies used a randomized design, physical activity behavior was an outcome measure, and the web-based interventions were compared with no or minimal treatment. The analysis resulted in conflicting evidence regarding the effectiveness of web-based physical activity interventions for persons with chronic disease. The limited number of studies, small sample sizes, and high dropout rates are factors that likely contributed to the conflicting results.
The authors provide several recommendations for future studies, including the customized design of interventions for individuals with chronic disease, use of strategies to increase adherence and reduce dropout rate (e.g., emails/text messages, new weekly content), identification of which of those strategies work best, larger sample sizes, and use of objective measures of physical activity.
Bossën, D., Veenhof, C., Dekker, J. & de Bakker, D. (2014). The Effectiveness of Self-Guided Web-Based Physical Activity Interventions Among Patients With a Chronic Disease: A Systematic Review. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 11, 665-677.